[Newspaper:] Saturday Star

[Date:] 20 February 1982


Let's have no tie with Iran that kills Baha'is

By Tom Harpur


According to Mohammed H. Fadaifard, Iranian charge d'affaires, Iran is now interested in normalizing diplomatic relations between Tehran and Ottawa.

Given the continuing, ruthless extermination of the Baha'is in that country, it would be a scandal for Canada to agree.

There have been no Canadian diplomats in Iran since Ambassador Kenneth Taylor and his staff left in January, 1980, together with several escaping American diplomats using Canadian passports.

Islam is, according to its deepest spiritual truths, a tolerant religion. Yet, the Iranian form of it has persecuted and slaughtered the Baha'is because of their faith ever since the movement was founded there in the middle of the last century.

Baha'is believe in the unity of all religions and peoples, the equality of men and women, the harmony of religion and science, and the need for universal education.

The faith expressly prohibits political involvement by any of its members. But, from the beginning in Iran it has been portrayed as a heretical sect of Islam bent on actively over throwing Islam in its present form.

In the earliest days, over 20,000 of its followers were cruelly put to the sword – and persecution has continued in waves down to recent years, including the period of the Shah.

In late December, 1981, Canadians Baha'is learned, through United Nations sources that eight of the nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran had been executed.

Their bodies were discovered accidentally in a secret burying ground reserved for "infidels."

This news had scarcely broken when it was learned that another six leading Baha'is, members of the Tehran Assembly, were put to death along with the woman in whose home they had been meeting, on Jan. 4, 1982.

Canadian Baha'i leaders, in Thornhill, say the campaign against Iran's 300,000 members of the faith is now entering a "final phase" whose objective is the total elimination of all prominent Baha'is and the intimidation, through threats, summary arrest, and torture, of rank and file believers until they recant.

In carefully documented reports, North American Baha'is have shown that property has been confiscated, cemeteries and other holy places desecrated, hundreds of rural believers have been driven from their villages, and several young girls have been abducted and married to Muslims.

Significantly the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes and protects the Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian minorities. Yet, it grants no official recognition to the Baha'is who form the largest minority group.

Though hundreds of Baha'i prisoners have been told they can be released if they recant their faith, official sources there still claim there is no religious persecution going on. The usual charges against Baha'is are that they were either spies for the Shah or are Israeli agents.

The fact that the Baha'i world headquarters is in Haifa has given credence to this latter charge in the minds of gullible fanatics.

Should the Canadian Government decide it is in its interest ultimately to normalize relations with Iran (External Affairs says there are no immediate plans for any change) full diplomatic recognition should be made conditional on a complete and instant end to atrocities against the Baha'is.

Anything less would be totally out of keeping with either the conscience of the Canadian people or our international stand on human rights. For full documentation, call the Toronto Baha'i Centre, 961-0035.































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